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A Passion for Community Service

Dana Tippin Cutler will receive School of Law Alumni Achievement Award

University of Missouri-Kansas City alumna Dana Tippin Cutler (J.D. ’89), the first woman of color to hold the position of president of the Missouri Bar’s Board of Governors, will receive the UMKC Alumni Association 2018 School of Law Alumni Achievement Award.

Cutler has a passion for community service. She has served as chair of the Diversity Committee for the Missouri Bar and was instrumental in starting their Leadership Academy. Currently a partner at James W. Tippin & Associates, Cutler was recently named “2018 Woman of the Year” by Missouri Lawyers Weekly and has received numerous accolades including the Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service in 2017, Mayor Sly James’ Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2016 and the President’s Award from the Missouri Bar in 2014, 2002 and 2001.

Cutler and her husband, Keith (J.D. ’89), star in the Daytime Emmy-nominated TV show “Couples Court with the Cutlers,” and she was named one of the “50 Missourians You Should Know” by Ingram’s magazine in 2017 and “Woman of the Year” by the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City in 2016.

Cutler recently discussed her career achievements with UMKC:

Have you always known you wanted to be a lawyer?

I decided to become a lawyer in fourth grade.

You were just named 2018 Woman of the Year by Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly and wrapped up your term as the first woman of color to serve as president of the Missouri Bar Association. Do you see yourself as a role model?

I do not think you can name yourself as a role model. So if someone says I’m their role model, I will accept that moniker. The take away is being fearless. Go after what interests you, fuels your passion. Don’t be afraid to be the only one involved, engaged or with your opinion. Fear is the enemy.

Where does your passion for community service come from? How did your experiences at UMKC influence that?

My grandparents (both sides). My parents were always involved in their communities in both a formal and informal capacity. My maternal grandfather always fed the homeless in their town and provided for those less fortunate. My maternal grandmother was involved in her church. My paternal grandfather helped bring unionization to the Pullman Porters and my paternal grandmother was captain of her voting ward in San Antonio, Texas. Both of my parents integrated their high schools in the 1950s and continued their community work through the Greek organizations, NAACP, church and numerous other social organizations. So, I grew up with family giving of their time, talent and resources to make their world/community better. We were encouraged to be involved with the bar association and that it will enrich your career and life. I guess I took that to heart.

What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t follow in my footsteps. Chart your own territory. It can be the same or similar territory, but do what will bring joy and contentment to you.

How did UMKC prepare you for your success?

The connections I made in law school are the ones I am still using today. My friends, mentors, opposing counsel, co-counsel, judges I appear before, are the folks that taught me or sat in class with me.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Cutler and other outstanding alumni at the 2018 Alumni Awards event Friday, June 15, on campus. The reception is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Click here for tickets or sponsorship information for the June 15, 2018, Alumni Awards event.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.


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